Last Wednesday, 16 November 2016, marked the 50th anniversary of the first screening of Cathy Come Home, a television drama which is considered to have had major contribution to British culture. Exactly 50 years on from its premiere in the Wednesday Play series, the University of Westminster hosted a screening of the seminal drama in the Westminster Law School at Little Titchfield Street.

The film was introduced by Dr Russell Orr, and Professor Peter Robson, former Chair of Shelter and close associate of Westminster Law School, was invited to participate in a discussion about Cathy Come Home. Professor Robson delivered an incisive presentation on the drama as well as its implications on law practices.

Professor Robson argued that the issue of homelessness in Britain was significantly influenced by Cathy Come Home – in the 1960s it inspired a radio programme that focused on homeless families and attracted attention for the first time. It transformed homelessness into a family issue by the means of a powerful presentation.

Professor Robson said: “I think Cathy is a film about a social situation; it accepts the fact of homelessness without analysis, and it’s the story of a family caught in that grip and how it is shattered by it.”

He noted that whilst those of a certain age think of it as a classic, a straw poll of his Housing Law students indicated that over 90 per cent had in fact never heard of it. However, the talk illustrated exactly why Cathy Come Home is still important and meaningful, examining its context, significance, impact and legacy. 

The screening was part of the 2016 Film Matters series, initiated and hosted by the Centre for Law, Society and Popular Culture at the University of Westminster.

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